Storms can impede aviation, particularly during take-off and landing. However, once the aircraft has reached its cruising altitude, the wind speed only affects the duration of the flight.
Strong cross-winds have a negative impact on take-off and landing. The maximum crosswind component depends on the aircraft type. The rule of thumb is: caution is called for as of 35 knots. Shear winds - these are gusty, alternating up-winds and down-winds - make the pilots’ work difficult and can mean aborting the landing and taking off again or landing at another airport. Smaller airplanes are more susceptible to this than larger aircraft.
Cologne/Bonn is fortunate to have a transversal runway, so that cross winds can be evaded. How does an Airport prepare for a storm? In particular by taking safety measures; numerous objects and a lot of equipment must be secured to prevent them from flying away.
Small aircraft are weighed down with concrete-filled car tyres on their wings. Parked aircraft are turned to face the wind. The facades of the buildings are checked to ensure that all billboards etc. are secure. Ground handling is clearly more difficult. Mobile aircraft stairs are for instance an easy target for wind. Larger aircraft are “fuelled for the storm” to gain more weight.